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Perfect for the ultimate adventurer! Travel across seven different provinces in Costa Rica, packing in every adrenaline-pumping activity along the way. Sleep in a cave behind a waterfall and rappel 150 feet down to the jungle below. Then head out to the beach where you will kayak, sail, snorkel, and learn to surf! The adventure doesn’t stop here, go mountain biking before heading out on a 3-day rafting trip down the Pacuare river. Experience all the activities Costa Rica has to offer on this two-week adventure.

Dates listed reflect travel time departing from and returning to the USA. International clients click here.

You must enroll in a program at least 8 days prior to the scheduled departure date. For help choosing an alternate date or location, please contact us to speak with a program expert.

With our No-Stress Travel Policy, you cancel for any reason up until the day of travel, and escrow 100% of the program fees for up to two years from the cancellation date.

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Program Profile

Costa Rica
Community Service Component
Travel Component
On the Go!
A Little Bit of Everything
Get to Know
The Sights, Adventure

  • Day 1

    Depart the U.S. en route to San José, Costa Rica. Upon your arrival, Rustic Pathways Staff will greet you at the airport.

    Enjoy your first glimpses of this spectacular country. From its rainforests to its volcanic peaks to its two coasts, Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful nations in Central America. Home to some of the most biodiverse swaths of land and sea on the planet, Costa Rica is famed for its natural environment – and its commitment to that environment! Costa Ricans – or Ticos, as they’re called here – are intensely proud and protective of their lands, and have put their country on the map as the world leader in eco-tourism and environmental protection.

    In addition to its stunning flora and fauna, Costa Rica is also world-renowned for its adventure activities, many of which you’ll be sampling in the days to come!

    Head to the hotel rented out by Rustic Pathways. Spend the first night meeting new friends and mingling about with students preparing for our many enriching programs. Good luck and enjoy your stay in beautiful Costa Rica!

  • Day 2

    Wake up for an early breakfast before heading by bus in a four-hour drive toward the beach town of Dominical, where you will get your first taste of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast and spend the evening making new friends and preparing your day pack for tomorrow’s hike.

  • Day 3

    Wake up bright and early and prepared for this adrenaline-filled day in the south of Costa Rica. The morning begins with a three-hour hike through the lush rainforest and visit to a botanical garden. 

Spend the night in a fully equipped cave hidden behind the waterfall. It is rustic, but there are beds, bathrooms, and a kitchen. After dinner, share stories and bound with your new friends.

  • Day 4

    Hike up to the Diamante waterfall surrounded by a lush of rainforest.

    After a good night of sleep on the cave, hike up the trail, harness up and rappel 100 feet off the side of the falls to reach your new home for the evening.
    **For those who do not wish to rappel, a Rustic Pathways Staff member can walk you down a separate trail that leads to the cave**

    Once you reach the bottom, take a plunge off a small waterfall into a pool below where you can cool down and enjoy the surrounding environment.

  • Day 5

    Driving day! Enjoy breakfast before starting our way to the North Pacific for some more adventures. This morning, you will drive to the beautiful Guanacaste Province in a six to seven hour bus ride; prepare some games and songs for the bus ride.

    After a bus ride filled with beautiful scenery and fun games, arrive by the afternoon to Avellanas where you will spend the rest of the day lazing and resting your sore muscles from your days of hiking.

    Watch the beautiful sunset in the Pacific and enjoy dinner together; then have a night of relaxation looking the stars near the beach!

  • Day 6

    Surfs up! Enjoy an early morning breakfast and then head off to the ocean. Spend a portion of the day learning how to surf from professional surf instructors. Guanacaste and the nearby beaches have been noted as being one of the best places for surfing in all of Costa Rica with its consistent- high quality waves.
Prepare a picnic and spend the afternoon at the beach playing with the waves or a soccer ball game. After a morning at the beach, Tamarindo will be waiting for you, do some souvenir shopping, get some ice cream and watch the sunset on the beach with your friends. Return to the hotel for another wonderful night’s sleep.
    xt day.

  • Day 7

    Spend the morning at the beach, where we are going to prepare a picnic, one of Costa Rica most breathtaking beaches. You will have the opportunity to play games, swim in the blue ocean with your new friends, and spend time sharing all together before going to salsa dance lessons in the afternoon.

    After a long day of activities drive back to Avellanas for a good night of sleep, and get ready for the next day.

  • Day 8

    This morning will be spent splashing in the waves on the beautiful beach of Bahia Los Piratas, relaxing, or wandering through the local markets of the nearby beach town of Tamarindo. After lunch, head to a beach up north for an afternoon sailing and snorkeling trip through the waters of the Nicoya Peninsula. Relish the luxury of the day while watching the sun create a masterpiece before your eyes as it sets on the horizon. Enjoy an evening with your new best friends, eating great food and listening to music under the stars.

  • Day 9

    Enjoy a relaxing morning and a light breakfast in the sunshine at Guanacaste. Hit the beach quick to soak up a few last rays of sun before starting a five-hour drive to the town of La Fortuna, famous for the towering Arenal Volcano and the rural communities that surround it, which rely heavily on tourism as and agriculture. Take a walk in the evening to get to know the town before return to the hotel for a good night of sleep.

  • Day 10

    The adventure continues today. Wake up early to drive one hour to the zip-lining adventure that will take you soaring above the rainforest canopy. Return to the hotel for lunch and get ready for a Chocolate Tour, where you will have the opportunity to learn about the Cocoa and the importance of this product in the history of Costa Rica; then try and taste all the different kinds of delicious chocolates; all made by a sustainable production.

    In the evening, relax all those hard-worked muscles at the Eco Termales Hot Springs. These naturally hot pools provide a soothing end to a wonderful day.

  • Day 11

    Enjoy the views of the Arenal Volcano while you prepare yourself for a four-hour bus drive to Turrialba valley.

    In Turrialba, you will see one of the most iconic and active volcanoes, while you spend the afternoon walking in to town for souvenir shopping with your friends.

  • Day 12

    Wake up early to start your day mountain biking in Turrialba. In the afternoon after a morning full of adrenaline, you will continue the adventure hiking to the local Aquiares waterfall.

  • Day 13 - 15

    Rise with the sun and head out to the world class Pacuare River for a three-day river rafting adventure. Nights will be spent in a river lodge (first night) and in tents (second night) placed on platforms in the rainforest near the soothing sounds of the river. Upon returning to San José, enjoy a group dinner and a final night’s sleep.

  • Day 16

    Return home on an early flight or start another Rustic Pathways adventure!

An Important Note About Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.

The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.

“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.

For more information, email costarica@rusticpathways.com

Program-Specific FAQs

  • On Tuesday afternoon students will arrive and stay that night in Alajuela in a base hotel. Wednesday morning students will meet with their new group and guides at the same hotel where they stayed and go off on their new program.

  • Students from the United States and Canada will be automatically issued a 90 day tourist visa upon entry into Costa Rica.
    For students traveling on Passports issued in countries other than the United States and Canada, we recommend you contact the Costa Rican embassy in your home country for additional visa details.

  • Yes. All flights between Costa Rica and the USA will have a flight leader starting in both Newark and Houston. Return flights to the USA will also have a flight leader as far as Newark and Houston. Flights between Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and the Dominican Republic are NOT escorted by a Rustic Pathways staff member.

  • Direct flight from Newark to San Jose takes approximately 5.5 hours.
    Direct flight from Houston to San Jose takes approximately 3.5 to 4 hours.

  • It does include international travel time. Fortunately, Costa Rica is located very close to United States so students will arrive the same day they depart the US.

  • During the Costa Rica Adventurer, students will pass through all 7 of Costa Rica’s provinces including San Jose, Heredia, Alajuela, Cartago, Limon, Guanacaste and Puntarenas provinces.

  • Each program will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. Some of our program leaders are also 
certified as Wilderness First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.


  • Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 students. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.

  • Rustic Pathways uses sterilization techniques to ensure that all drinking water for students is potable and safe to drink. We ask students to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.

  • Students are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Students will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If students are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.

  • Outlets in Costa Rica are 110 V, with standard US two prong plugs (or three prong if grounded). Students from Europe will need an adapter. (Adapters are very difficult to find in Costa Rica. Don’t forget yours at home!)

  • Students will visit a variety of different locations but most of the time, students should be prepared for hot, humid weather in the 80’s and 90’s during the day with a daily afternoon rain shower.

  • Students will be staying in hotels during their travels. The hotels are carefully chosen accordingly and are clean, comfortable and safe. Students will also have one night in a fully equipped cave at the base of a waterfall and several nights at base camps along the river during their rafting trip.

  • Students will be eating at local restaurants as they travel throughout Costa Rica. The food will vary between traditional Costa Rican food and occasional American and international selections

  • All the places where we stay have bathroom facilities with running water, American style toilets and showers.

  • Students will have limited access to internet during their program when they visit towns with internet cafes. They will be able to purchase international phone cards in Costa Rica from the guides or at local convenience stores which can be used to call home from the public phones.

    It is important to note that they will also be spending time in some more remote areas, where there will not be public phone or internet access. All of our guides have cell phones for emergency purposes.

  • Students should pack reasonably for this program. Laundry may be available once a week and the cost is $10-$15 depending on the amount of clothes.

  • There are typically more girls than boys however the exact numbers vary from week to week.

  • You can not flush the toilet paper.

  • Students will be traveling through a variety of different locations. Bus rides will vary between a one hour drive to a 5 hour drive.

  • Rustic Pathways hires private buses/vans/4×4 SUV to transport our students to different program locations.

  • We are going to have access to healthcare 30 minutes away in most of the places, the only time that is going to be farther is when we are doing rafting in the Pacuare River that it would take us 3 hours approximately but we would have helicopter support in case of an emergency. We are not in an area where the malaria is present. We do a lot of adventure activities but we frequently check our vendors to make sure that they follow our safety protocols.

  • Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the International SOS and Centers for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.

  • International SOS is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access to International SOS benefits through Rustic Pathways’ membership.

    As a member you will have access to International SOS extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travelers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program. For more information please visit our International SOS webpage.

  • There is going to be a clinic 30 minutes away from most of the places that we visit, the only time that is going to be farther is when we are doing Rafting in the Pacuare River that it would take us 3 hours approximately, if it is an emergency we will have helicopter support.

  • Rustic Pathways can cater to most dietary needs on this program. There will be ample access to fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, and grains for those who are vegetarian. Vegan diets can be accommodated, but with a little more foresight and planning as this is not a diet commonly encountered in Costa Rica. Please know that while we are happy to accommodate alternative diets, many of the special diets common in the United States are not common in other parts of the world and travelers must be patient and understanding in having these needs be met. Please contact costarica@rusticpathways.com with any questions regarding special diets or allergies.

  • Yes, there are bugs. It isn’t unbearable, but we do require students to wear bug spray, preferably containing DEET, and to bring light layers to cover up during dawn and dusk.

  • Personal gifts, internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.

  • There are not additional costs on this program.

  • The recommended allowance is $350.

  • Rash guard for surfing.

  • Students will visit local Spanish speaking communities; however the focus of the program is adventure in incredibly beautiful locations. The possibility of practicing conversational Spanish will exist during these trip activities. Local children are especially eager to speak Spanish with Rustic Pathways students.

  • No, all our guides are bilingual so they can help you if you need something

  • The Costa Rica Adventurer program is appropriate for students of most physical activity levels. Students should be prepared for hikes and adventure activities that may require moderate physical activity.

  • Yes, you can.

Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:

Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.

Rustic Gear. Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.


A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Medication
  • Visa documentation (if applicable)
  • Consent to Travel form (optional)
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts

Checked Luggage

A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.


  • Socks (8)
  • Underwear (8)
  • Jeans (1)
  • Shorts (3-4)
  • T-shirt (6)
  • Tank tops (4)
  • Long sleeve shirt (1)
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit
  • Long sleeve rashguard
  • Rain jacket
  • Fleece/hoodie
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Quick dry towel
  • Beach towel/sarong
  • Headlamp/flashlight


(travel sized in ziplock bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Foam earplugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Wet Wipes
  • Razor/shaving cream

Important Reminders

  • *Community Service Appropriate Attire includes T-shirts and tank tops with no visible undergarments and shorts with a 3” or more inseam.
  • Don’t forget the Big Five: Water Bottle, Sunscreen, Bug spray, Rain jacket, Closed-toe shoes.
  1. a
    San Jose

    Welcome to Costa Rica! You will meet your Program Leaders in San José, the capital of Costa Rica .

  2. b

    Swim in the Pacific Ocean and enjoy the sunset in Marino Ballena National Park.

  3. c
    San Salvador

    Enjoy the Nauyaca waterfall in an awesome rappel.

  4. d

    A cave is going to be your house for one night in this incredible experience.

  5. e
    Playa Avellanas

    This beautiful beach of the North Pacific is the perfect place to test your surfing skills.

  6. f
    La Fortuna

    Feel the adrenaline while you zip line though the rainforest and relax in the hot springs in the evening.

  7. g

    Visit Finca Araciari, our base in Turrialba. Experience Costa Rican culture and walk around a traditional town.

  8. h

    Raft the white waters of one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, The Pacuare.

  9. i

    Here is where we finish our rafting trip, grab lunch and get ready for a road trip through one of the most beautiful national parks of the country on your way back to San José.